NEW YORK: So the initial hype is over and the action has begun. We just got off the phone with Alex Roy, who isn't competing in this year's Bullrun, but showed up in the Team Polizei M5 to escort the drivers up to Pocono and document the happenings. And happenings there were. After the jump, a gang of pics and lotsa anecdotes.
According to Alex and his photog pal JF Musial (who shot all of the photos for the story), somewhere on the high side of 60 to 80 cars showed up for the start of the
race rally, and Roy reports that this year's start contained more high-end, solidly-prepared cars than in years past, including a trio of Audi RS4s, one of which, of course, was driven by Mario Andretti, as well as a couple of Spykers, one of which was piloted by Olympic hero Carl Lewis. The other Spyker, right off the bat, didn't fare so well. Driven by the company president, it got nailed by the fuzz before it reached the Poconos. In fact, according to the traffic on the Polizei scanner, the po-pos didn't have enough squad cars to respond to all of the reports of Bullrun activity.
On a lighter note, Troy Hanson, affiliated with Hayden Christensen's "Don't Fuck With The Sith, Bitch" team, ran out of gas in the Shelby GT-H Safety Car — replete with roof-mounted lights — short of the Jersey-Penna border. A New Jersey State Trooper pulled over to assist, and upon seeing markings on the Mustang indicating that Hanson was an IRL driver, the Indy Racing League-fan peace officer got Hanson topped up and then gave him a 120mph escort to the Pennsylvania state line. Whoever you are, inverse-of-Buford T. Justice, we salute you.
Meanwhile, the non-participant Polizeis were offering an escort to a peleton that included our boy Skiny in an Audi A6 4.2.
The first car out, a Saleen S7 that Alex predicted would break down, failed fifteen minutes after its departure and showed up last to the jambalaya lunch and lap of the track at Pocono.
Speaking of the lap, the Ward/Haller '54 Studebaker apparently dominated the on-track proceedings, and according to Roy, is the coolest car of the event, hands-down. We'll be blasting along in the Stude soon enough, wearing a cool shirt (and we don't mean fashionable — the thing's essentially a Cup car with a Studebaker body; needless to say, there's no air conditioning compressor hooked up to the 305-inch, 650hp small block.)
As for the favorites? The two most experienced teams on the rally are the Rawlings and Collins teams, with Rawlings in the 750il that he finished last year's rally in after his crazy-ass hot rod took a dirt nap, and Collins in a Ferrari 550. The main contender against the veterans is the Ford GT driven by Rob Ferretti and Noah Lehman-Haupt, who apparently have pretty much duplicated Team Polizei's law-enforcement-avoidance setup. Worryingly, their car — a vehicle that Noah rents out from his Gotham Dream Cars business, already has bald tires, and the GTs are legendary for blowing clutches during such events. But if they can keep it together, Roy thinks they've got a shot. The kids hit Toronto tonight.
As our date with the last few stages draws nearer, we'll keep you posted on the happenings. [Thanks to Alex and JF for the reportage and photos.]